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Militaria lots trigger bomb alerts

An army bomb squad turned up to The Auction Centre in Runcorn, Cheshire, to remove a First World War German stick grenade which was part of a private collection due to be offered on October 28.

Separately, a militaria collection of mainly First World War items triggered a police response with the bomb squad and army in attendance at Ryedale Auctioneers in Kirkbymoorside, North Yorkshire, on October 13. It is believed police were altered by a phone call from someone in Essex who had viewed the sale online.

One item, the fuse of an artillery shell, was removed for safety reasons after an on-the-spot X-ray proved inconclusive as to whether it was live or not.

Ryedale boss Angus Ashworth – a former army reservist himself – said: “It should have been a phone call or email to us to say ‘is everything safe’ and I could have said we’ve checked it all, not a ‘full lock-the-whole-town-down’ – it’s going to be an interesting at the council meeting tonight, as I’m the mayor of Kirkbymoorside…”

He says he could lose “£6000-7000” in costs and was forced to reschedule the Crown Spindle Mill collection of militaria, and a railway and toys auction, both now moved to October 29.

Sworders appoints fine art specialist


Picture specialist Jane Oakley has joined Sworders.

Sworders has appointed former Sotheby’s, Christie’s South Kensington and Bonhams picture specialist Jane Oakley to expand the scope and frequency of its fine art auctions.

Oakley worked at CSK from 2004-13 and then at Sotheby’s as director of British & Irish Art until 2016. She was a fine art specialist at Bonhams from 2002-04, having starting out as a specialist in 1998 at Phillips.

At Sworders, Oakley is charged with further developing Sworders’ Modern British and 20th century art auctions. Her first move will be to launch an auction series titled Sporting Art, Wildlife and Dogs at the Stansted Mountfitchet rooms in Essex on April 24 next year.

SJ Phillips auction brings £1.3m total


The Hungarian silver-gilt cup and cover that sold for £85,000 in the SJ Phillips sale at Sotheby’s.

A 16th century Hungarian silver-gilt cup and cover proved the most eagerly contested lot at Sotheby’s sale of items from the stock of SJ Phillips on October 18.

The family-owned firm moved to Bruton Street earlier this year, ending a 144-year presence on Bond Street.

A total of 199 of the 260 lots were sold for a hammer total of £1.3m.

The trumpet-form cup – engraved with bands of scrolling foliage and crowned with a spread-winged swan finial – is a type made in both Germany and Hungary in the second and third quarters of the 16th century. Similar vessels were made in glass. This 10in (25cm) example, carrying the unidentified maker’s mark only (HB conjoined above a trefoil), was dated to c.1540.

It was estimated at £25,000- 30,000 but sold at £85,000.

Most read

The most clicked-on stories for week October 12-18 on antiquestradegazette.com

1 Bomb alerts triggered off at two auction houses in same week

2 Rolex watch attracts 100 bidders and sells for £230,000 at Suffolk auction

3 Sworders seeks to boost its fine art auctions with appointment of former CSK and Sotheby’s specialist

4 WATCH: Sheffield auctioneer sells ‘fantastic piece of engineering’ as model train bid to £13,400

5 Star Wars Jawa figures up at auction show extra value of pristine packaging

Ex-V&A curator joins Christie’s


A design for Marc Isambard Brunel’s Thames Tunnel, the first successful underwater tunnel, which opened in London in 1837. It is part of an archive being offered at Bonhams Knightsbridge on November 15.

Dr Malcolm McNeill is taking on a new role as Chinese painting specialist at Christie’s London, starting on December 1. McNeill leaves a career in academia to enter the commercial world.

Prior to working as an assistant curator in the Asia department at the Victoria and Albert Museum, he has had stints at the British Museum (researching the exhibition Ming: 50 Years that Changed China), the National Palace Museum in Taipei and Asia House in London.

Estimated at £50,000-100,000, the designs are signed by both Brunel and his son Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

The archive is being sold by a direct Brunel descendant.

The appointment follows the departures of Jeremy Morgan and Pedram Rastim, the long-standing heads of department in both South Kensington and King Street who left the firm as part of restructuring earlier this year.

Morgan has since joined Woolley & Wallis.

In Numbers


The number of railway and London Underground signs being offered at Chippenham Auction Rooms on November 10. Dating from the early 20th century up to the 1970s, the signs are part of an extensive train-related collection formed by a former railway worker from Wiltshire.